From the Pastor’s Desk: Rev. Simon Lee
Dear brothers and sisters of RCAC,
Daily we meet people or encounter news of people suffering grievously from the injustice of society and the devastation of wars. Christians face the dilemma of facing this injustice of the kingdoms of this world while trying to hold on to our belief that the justice in the kingdom of God will prevail. We are torn by the reality of this world and the hope we have in “heaven”!
In my previous article: “My kingdom is not of this world (1),” I shared with you the words of Jesus who said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”– John 18:36. We concluded, “What we have to offer in the Church above all, is the gospel of the kingdom of God, a kingdom of love, peace, and justice, one that the world does not offer. The gospel is therefore our top priority and our answer to the world of hate, unrest, and injustice.”
In this second article, I intend to go a little deeper into what these words mean by focusing on the context of Jesus’ words in John 18. Jesus was being tried by Pilate in the governor’s headquarters and Pilate asked the Jewish accusers “What accusation do you bring against this man?” The crowd was evasive in their reply: “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” (29, 30) In the Gospel of Luke, however, the real reason for the false accusation of the Jewish people becomes apparent, put in a way that Pilate must handle as it relates allegedly to the challenge to the Roman authority: And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” (Luke 23:2) The crafty, cunning and blasphemous way the Jewish crowd used in putting together various bits of information for this false accusation is quite disconcerting, to say the least. But it nevertheless at least shows that they could not deny there are two conflicting systems of “justice” at work.
Pilate, being himself a shrewd politician, was able to see through their plot to their motive which was to use him to bring down the death sentence on Jesus, something they knew they could not do themselves. So Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” By this, he also clearly affirmed that there are two “legal” systems, the Roman or the Jewish.
My purpose here is not to wade into the complex theological debate of the doctrine of the two kingdoms, but to simply say that we cannot escape the fact that we Christians are citizens of two worlds, one that is earthly and the other that is heavenly, and we all must live in this tension as we as Christians face the injustice and evils of the world in which we live. Returning to Jesus’s words in John 18: 36 we can summarize what Jesus said by the following simple points:
- Jesus’ kingdom is not a rival political kingdom.
- Jesus’ kingdom does not originate from this world, but from heaven.
- Jesus’ kingdom has peace and not war as its base and agenda.
Decades later, Paul reaffirmed that Jesus’ kingdom established by Jesus going to the cross is based on sacrificial love, righteousness and humility, so different from the worldly kingdom that it is the exact opposite of what the Jewish people expected and what the Gentile world valued: “to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Gentiles foolishness.” (1 Corinthians 1:23)
In the context of the Gospel of John, we can see that for John, there are always dichotomy like, light and darkness, freedom and slavery, righteousness and evil… Thus, when Christ says his kingdom is not of this world, John wants us to note that Christ rules in a spiritual kingdom manifesting that He is “the way, the truth and the life,” (John 14:6) in contrast to the worldly kingdom of waywardness, untruth and death.” When Jesus was facing the betrayal of His own people and the injustice of this world, His ultimate defence was pointing the authority and the people to the truth: “I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (37)
Earlier John has recorded what Jesus himself had already taught: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31,32) Again He said, “36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
May we seek this ultimate TRUTH and true FREEDOM that Jesus Christ offers to us all.
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Simon Lee